By Danielle Engel

On Nov. 7, social science students and their Japanese counterparts jumped head first into treaty negotiations, as they discussed the placement of Japanese military bases on U.S. soil.  The cross-curricular event took place in the student union, before Japanese dignitaries and school faculty.

As part of the treaty negotiation, social science teacher Patrick Griffin’s students assumed the roles of members of Congress arguing for or against military base placement in their state.  The Japanese exchange students worked to persuade the Congressional representatives to allow their bases in the U.S.  The Japanese visitors worked closely with Chiho Cotton’s Japanese Language students in order to communicate and convey their ideas.

“The Japanese counterpart was most amazed by the creative approaches of the faculty and of the enthusiasm of the students, who genuinely seem to enjoy what they were learning,” said Cotton.

While Congress and the Japanese representatives argued their positions, students in Paige Vignola’s IB and Honors English classes captured the interactions, serving as members of the press. Special guests Mr. Ken Okaniwa, the Consul General of Japan in Miami, and Mr. David Citron, Senior Coordinator for Interagency Affairs for Southern Command (a former State Department official who is now working at that civilian posting in the Department of Defense), were present during the event.

The event was an extension of the Kakehashi Project that took place over the summer in which sixteen students had the opportunity to travel on a sponsored all-expense-paid trip to Japan to experience the language and culture while staying with host families.  In exchange, the Japanese students visited here, staying with the families of the kids they met over the summer.  The lesson gave the visitors an opportunity to engage in a class lesson.

The cross-cultural event fostered international friendship. Junior Sofia Aguilar, who had the opportunity to visit her Japanese counterparts this past summer, helped advise and oversee the work of her peers.

“Although we had differences in our culture, I found it easy to become friends with my partners Rico and Nana,” said Aguilar.

The project, based on the Okinawa negotiations, allowed for an enriched worldliness and awareness among the students.

“Not only is this an unforgettable experience for the visit Japanese students, but also for gulliver students who were offered the opportunity to see their country for the perspective of students from Japan,” said, Cotton.

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